“And those who reached this place where I found myself? They had formed their own community – my community now, too-”
Kira remembered what Matt had described, a place where broken people lived.
“They help each other,” her father explained simply. “We help each other. Those who can see? They guide me. I am never without helping eyes. Those who can’t walk? They are carried.”
Kira unconsciously rubbed her own damaged leg.
“There is always someone to lean on,” he told her. “Or a pair of strong hands for those who have none.”
“The village of healing has existed for a long time,” he explained. “Wounded people still come. But now it is beginning to change, because children have been born there and are growing up. So we have strong, healthy young people among us. And we have others who have found us and stayed because they wanted to share our way of life.”
I spent yesterday reading this description of the Village of Healing in Lois Lowry’s Gathering Blue (which I highly recommend) and crying just a little bit because I know this is what church was meant to look like.
I grew up in a small congregational church in rural New England. I experienced firsthand a church family – a group of people who guide and support and lean on each other. And as with any family, the more mature you grow, the more aware you become of the members flaws and limitations. As I’ve grown, I’ve seen ugliness and prejudice and selfishness and greed in my various church homes and in the global church. I have friends who were deeply wounded by someone representing Jesus. I have friends who think the church is irretrievably corrupt and socially irrelevant. And I think on some level these friends know that Jesus is not the problem there – but His followers are.
Our village truly is a place where broken people live.
I’ve been reading a lot of Lois Lowry and a lot of Gospel of John and the greatest message I’ve taken from both is this: power corrupts and mercy heals. Christianity gets a lot of negative attention because some of its most powerful leaders speak with arrogance and judgment and (often) hate. But, out of the media frenzy, on the ground in the every day, I see a different side. I see a Village of Healing that I am so proud to witness and participate in.
The greatest gift this blog has given me is a window to God’s global family. I choke up when I think of the way my church – and churches across the country- came together to support Vera-lou’s journey. I’m awed to learn about my reader/friend Kayla’s church, that partners with the FBI to fight sex trafficking in Pittsburg. I feel such a warmth up under my ribs, knowing that members of our imperfect little village are out there in the prisons and mental hospitals and schools and sober houses – holding hearts in their hands and embracing the underdogs and the castaways.
It gives me hope that – despite the misrepresentation and the brokenness and the ways we screw it all up – our village can still be a place that the wounded seek out.
The church is a place where broken people live, so it will always inevitably show signs of brokenness. The only story I can tell is my own and this is it: I’m one of those young people who grew up here, who grew up strong and healthy, took my falls and was led and supported- I’ve seen the best and the worst of this imperfect place and I’ve still found healing here. Because it’s where the Healer dwells.